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Cloud Enablement & Operations

The Evolution from a Provider of Technology Components to a Broker of Technology Services

A 3 Part Series from Trevor Williamson

  • Part 1: Understanding the Dilemma
  • Part 2: Planning the Solution
  • Part 3: Executing the Solution, again and again…

Part 1: Understanding the Dilemma

IT teams are increasingly being challenged as bring-your-own-technology (BYOD) policies and “as-a-service” software and infrastructure multiply in mainstream organizations.  In this new reality, developers still need compute, network and storage to keep up with growth…and workers still need some sort of PC or mobile device to get their jobs done…but they don’t necessarily need corporate IT to give it to them.  They can turn to a shadow IT organization using Amazon, Rackspace and Savvis or using SaaS applications or an unmanaged desktop because when all is said and done, if you can’t deliver on what your users and developers care about, they will use whatever and whoever to get their jobs done better, faster and cheaper.

Much of this shift toward outside services comes down to customer experience, or how your customers—your users—perceive their every interaction with IT, from your staff in the helpdesk to corporate applications they access every day.  If what you are delivering (or not delivering as the case may be) is more burdensome, more complicated or doesn’t react as fast as other service providers (like Amazon, Office 365, or Salesforce, etc.), then they will turn (in droves) toward those providers.

Now the question hanging heavy in the air is what do those providers have, except of course scale, that your IT organization doesn’t have?  What is the special sauce for them to be able to deliver those high-value services, quicker and at a lower cost than you can?

In a few words; IT Service Management (ITSM)…but wait!…I know the first reaction you might have is that ITSM has become a sour subject and that if you hear ITIL chanted one more time you’re going to flip out.  The type of ITSM I’m talking about is really the next generation and has only passing similarities to the service management initiatives of the past.  While it is agreed that ITSM has the potential to deliver the experiences and outcomes your developers and users need and want, today’s ITSM falls far short of that idea.  Process for process sake you’ve probably heard…but whatever, we are still measuring success based on internal IT efficiencies, not customer or financial value or even customer satisfaction. We still associate ITSM exclusively with ITIL best practices and we continue to label ourselves as providers of technology components.

As it turns out, the adage “You cannot fix today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions” is as right as it ever was.  We need to turn ITSM on its head and create a new way forward based on customer centricity, services focus, and automated operations.  We have to rethink the role we play and how we engage with the business.  Among the most significant transformations of IT we need to complete is from a provider of technology components to a broker of technology services. We have relied on ITSM to drive this transformation, but ITSM needs to change in order to be truly effective in the future. Here’s why:

   The roots of service management focus was on the customer:  “Service management” originated within the product marketing and management departments and from the beginning, service management placed the customer at the center of all decision making within the service provider organization. It’s the foundation to transform product-oriented organizations into service providers where the customer experience and interaction are designed and managed to cost-effectively deliver customer results and satisfaction.

  But when we applied service management to IT, we lost customer focus: Applying service management to information technology produced the well-known discipline of ITSM but, unfortunately, IT professionals associated it exclusively with the IT infrastructure library (ITIL) best practices, which focus on processes for managing IT infrastructure to enable and support services. What’s missing is the customer perspective.

   In the age of the customer, we need to proactively manage services via automation: In the age of the customer, technology-led disruption (virtualization, automation, orchestration, operating at scale, etc.) erodes traditional competitive barriers making it easier than ever for empowered employees and app developers to take advantage of new devices and cloud-based software. To truly function as a service provider, IT needs to first and foremost consider the customer and the customer’s desired outcome in order to serve them faster, cheaper, and at a higher quality.  In today’s world, this can only be accomplished via automation.

When customers don’t trust a provider to deliver quality products or services, they seek alternatives. That’s a pretty simple concept that everyone can understand but, what if the customer is a user of IT services that you provide?  Where do they go if they don’t like the quality of your products or services?  Yep, Amazon, Rackspace, Terremark, etc., and any other service provider who offers a solution that you can’t…or that you can’t in the required time or for the required price.

The reason why these service providers can do these seemingly amazing things and offer such diverse and, at times, sophisticated services, is because they have eliminated (mostly) the issues associated with humans doing “stuff” by automating commodity IT activities and then orchestrating those automated activities toward delivering aggregate IT services.  They have evolved from being providers of technology components to brokers of technology services.

If you’re looking for more information on BYOD, register for our upcoming webinar “BYOD Webinar- Don’t Fight It, Mitigate the Risk with Mobile Management

Next…Part 2: Planning the Solution

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